- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where there’s smoke

“When I first heard about the spate of church fires in Alabama, I had in my mind’s eye a profile of the perpetrator: an undereducated loner — seething with resentment about how the world had treated him unjustly. I could almost see him in a beat-up pickup truck, driving around back roads in the middle of the night, venting his frustrations on those ubiquitous Baptist churches dotting rural Alabama.

“Now I’m inclined to agree with Alabama state fire marshal Richard W. Montgomery: ‘My profile on these suspects is shot all to heck and back.’

“The young men who seem to have committed these crimes are popular and reasonably well-educated. … They are the sons of suburban privilege, enjoying the kind of leisurely interlude that small private colleges afford them. …

“Someone should have been paying more attention, not just to these three, but to all our college and university students. … [M]any colleges and universities don’t take much interest … in the souls of their students.”

— Joseph M. Knippenberg, writing on ” Burned Out in Birmingham,” for the Ashbrook Center, at www.ashbrook.org

Wolfe and Bush

“Tom Wolfe is a spry fellow, arch and gently convivial. …

“He’s achieved considerable success by registering what’s new, but seems himself consciously removed from modernity. … Mr. Wolfe, born 1930, telegraphs a deeply atavistic sensibility. …

“Yet Mr. Wolfe is a wild goose. [His 2004 novel] ‘I Am Charlotte Simmons,’ particularly in its notice of the coarse sexuality governing campus life, is a book a liberal would never write, as corroborated in the many negative reviews. …

“Mr. Wolfe offers a personal incident as evidence of ‘what a fashion liberalism is.’ A reporter for the New York Times called him up to ask why George W. Bush was apparently a great fan of the ‘Charlotte Simmons’ book. … In the course of the reporting, however, it came out that Mr. Wolfe had voted for the Bush ticket. ‘The reaction among the people I move among was really interesting. It was as if I had raised my hand and said, “Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I’m a child molester.”’ For the sheer hilarity, he took to wearing an American flag pin, ‘and it was as if I was holding up a cross to werewolves.’”

— Joseph Rago, writing on “Status Reporter,” March 11 in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Finding truth

“Universities exist to serve the higher things — the pursuit, preservation and propagation of truth. …

“Consider just a sampling of old college and university mottoes, many of which antedate the American founding: ‘Veritas’ (Truth); ‘Veritas and Virtus’ (Truth and Virtue); ‘Lux et Veritas’ (Light and Truth). …

“I do not deny that universities must enable dialogue, foster debate, and encourage deliberation about all sorts of things. … The point of such academic give-and-take, however, is not diversity of opinion for its own sake. Rather, it is movement toward a resting place called Truth.”

— Mark A. Kalthoff, writing on “To Tell the Truth,” in the March issue of the American Spectator

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